By Elia Simantov
28th November, 2010 – 20th January, 2011: On Thursday, 11th January, our good friend and brilliant musician Bambang Sri Handoko (aka Bang) joined us at the EBPP Jatituhu School for the introduction of the first batch of recorders to our students. The twenty new wind instruments were donated to us by Alistair Ross Russell and his son on the occasion of the son’s birthday, along with a brand new Yamaha classical guitar.
When Alistair first contacted David regarding a possible donation he explained that every year during his birthday gets to choose a different cause to which he would like to dedicate donation. When David heard from Alistair that his son chose EBPP and that he plays the guitar and violin he thought it was an excellent opportunity to get some new music instruments for our program. We decided a new guitar is in order, since our students are so eager to learn and practice playing the guitar, and an additional instrument to the program will provide more opportunities for them to try & experiment during classes. We are hopeful that with additional donations, each one of our schools’ libraries will include a guitar as well as other instruments, with which our students will be able to learn and practice at the village, in their spare time.
In addition to that, we felt that it is the right time for our kids to discover and learn about wind instruments for the very first time. As I knew that Bang has been teaching music at Sunrise School in Kerobokan, and has experience in teaching his students how to play the recorders among other instruments, it was clear to me that we should invite him to work with us and to help introduce the new instrument to our eager students.
Little did we know the amazing feat that was about to unfold during the first recorder class that Bang conducted. After just over an hour of teaching our students from the remote Jatituhu School they were already playing their first song! I truly think that never in my life was I so happy to hear the sounds of “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star”… During the next half hour the kids were happily studying the basics of musical notation, and shortly after they were already identifying and writing the different notes of the major scale on the board. Keeping in mind that this is the first time these kids see a recorder, let alone hold one in their hands, this was simply mind-blowing to us all!
When David came up to visit our class he was understandably astounded to see how Bang managed to teach our kids so quickly, and was overjoyed to see how the kids learn and succeed so fast in whatever is laid at their feet. “This is amazing! I’m incredibly happy to see this, but I’m not surprised” David said to me at the Bali Banjar of Jatituhu Village, where the class was taking place. “Our kids absorb all these exciting new things like sponges! They’re so happy and eager to learn, and that really warms my heart! They are so brilliant in whatever they do and that is why I’m not surprised at all”. When it was time for us to go we looked at each other and it was obvious to all of us that we must leave some of the instruments at the village, so that the kids will be able to practice in their spare time. We decided to leave four recorders at the hands of one of the local school’s tutors, and returned to our Daya base camp with the sixteen recorders that where left and with a great feeling indeed.
Just over a week later, when I proposed that we conduct another recorder class at the village, David suggested that we hold the class with our Cegi and Pengalusan’s senior high school students, and had a the great idea that bring along with us three of the most gifted students from the previous recorder class in Jatituhu, to demonstrate to the Cegi and Pengalusan kids how they learned to play the recorders so well. Later, Yeny, our music programme’s field coordinator, told me that when they informed the Jatituhu kids that three of them will go to Cegi to play and show their talent, they were all so excited, and many of them asked to come too! Finally, five Jatituhu students were chosen to show the Cegi and Pengalusan kids what they can do, and perhaps contribute in creating a healthy competition between the schools…
When we arrived at Cegi School Bang commented on the beautiful view that surrounds the village as the five Jatituhu kids were getting ready to show their new musical abilities to their peers. It was great to see how the five were so motivated and eager to show everyone their progress. When they started playing we could see that they were nervous, obviously because they wanted to do so well… After a very short while they got the hang of it and continued to play a brilliant performance of “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star”.
The thoroughly impressed Cegi kids were clearly now very eager to learn how to play. They listened to Bang’s explaining and demonstration and quickly managed to play similar sounds on the recorders that we handed out to them. Once again Bang amazed us, as not long after this the kids were already practicing “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star”, and continued to study the simple musical notation concepts that Bang presented to them. Also here we couldn’t leave the kids without a few recorders to practice what the learned, and so Bang immediately said: “We need to get more recorders quickly! Every student should have an instrument so that he can practice at home”. “Yeah, I know” I replied, knowing that from the twenty recorders that were donated to us by Alistair and his son we already left eight behind, for the students to practice with. “We hope we will get more support soon so that we’ll be able to continue with the classes in all our schools” I added, “and I hope you will be able to come along and continue teaching in our villages”. “The pleasure will be all mine!” answered Bang with a big glowing smile on his face.